Treatments & Procedures

LASIK (Laser in situ Keratomileusis)

Laser in-situ keratomileusis, or LASIK, is a popular surgical approach used to correct vision in people who are nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism.

All laser vision correction surgeries work by reshaping the cornea, or clear front part of the eye, so that light traveling through it is properly focused onto the retina located in the back of the eye. There are a number of different surgical techniques used to reshape the cornea.

What are the advantages of LASIK?

LASIK has many benefits, including:

  • It works! It corrects refractive error. About 95% of patients are satisfied with the outcome of LASIK (based on a government-sponsored, patient-reported outcomes study).
  • LASIK surgery is associated with very little pain.
  • Vision is corrected nearly immediately or by the next day after LASIK.
  • Recovery is quick. Usually, no bandages or stitches are needed after LASIK.
  • Adjustments can be made years after LASIK to correct vision even further.
  • After having LASIK, most patients no longer need corrective eyewear (glasses, contacts, etc.).

What are the disadvantages of LASIK?

  • Changes that are made to the cornea cannot be reversed after LASIK.
  • LASIK is generally not covered by insurance plans, and is paid for by the patient.
  • LASIK eye surgery is technically complex. Problems can occur when the doctor creates the flap, which can permanently affect vision. The use of femtosecond lasers has reduced this risk.
  • Rarely, complications related to LASIK laser eye surgery can cause a reduction in the best vision achievable with or without glasses.

How should I prepare for LASIK?

Before your LASIK surgery, you will meet with a caregiver who will discuss with you what you should expect during and after the surgery. During this session, your medical history will be evaluated and your eyes will be tested. Likely tests will include measuring corneal thickness, refraction, and corneal mapping.

Once you have gone through your evaluation, you will meet the surgeon, who will discuss your options for laser vision correction and answer any other questions you may have. Afterward, you can schedule an appointment for the procedure.

If you wear rigid gas permeable contact lenses, you should not wear them for three weeks before your evaluation. Other types of contact lenses shouldn't be worn for at least three days before your screening evaluation. Be sure to bring your current glasses to the surgeon so that your prescription can be reviewed.

On the day of your surgery, eat a light meal before coming in, and take all of your prescribed medications. Do not wear eye makeup or any bulky accessories in your hair that will interfere with positioning your head under the laser. If you are not feeling well that morning, call the doctor's office to ask whether the procedure needs to be postponed.

What happens during the LASIK procedure?

During LASIK eye surgery, a femtosecond laser is used to cut a thin flap in the cornea. The flap is then lifted and the underlying cornea tissue is reshaped using an excimer laser. After the cornea is reshaped so that it can properly focus light into the eye and onto the retina, the corneal flap is put back in place and the surgery is complete.

The surgery is performed while the patient is under a local anesthesia and usually takes about 15 minutes to complete.

What are the potential side effects of LASIK?

Some patients have discomfort in the first 24-48 hours after surgery. Other side effects, although rare and usually temporary, may include:

  • glare
  • seeing halos around images
  • difficulty driving at night
  • changing vision
  • dry eyes

What should I expect after LASIK surgery?

Healing after LASIK usually occurs very rapidly. Most patients notice improved vision within a day after LASIK. However, your vision may be blurry and hazy for the first day. You should plan to have someone drive you home after LASIK.

Your eyes will be dry even though they do not feel that way. Your doctor will give you prescription eye drops to prevent infection and keep your eyes moist. These drops may cause a temporary slight burn or blurring of your vision when you use them. Do not use any drops that have not approved by your ophthalmologist.

Specific follow-up after the surgery varies from one surgeon to another. You will go back to the doctor for an evaluation 24 to 48 hours after LASIK, as well as at certain times in the first year after surgery.

References

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 5/18/2015...#8595